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Archive for the ‘Technology and other crimes’ Category

Every Friday, I indulge in a somewhat shameful browse through a bunch of internet memes and sensations, as collected by various blogs. And today I came across a way to animate your photos–a quite astonishing AI feat being given away as a promotion for a genealogy website. I instantly uploaded some of my photos, and was quite amazed to see the faces move, smile. Not perfect, but still–made me gasp.
Below is a photo of my grandfather.

And here is the video that Deep Nostalgia made of it.
Try it!

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Such excitement yesterday! I had not only TWO electricians but also THREE fence repair guys rallying around, all working hard to bring my house a little closer to the ideal. And while it is quite true that the money is drunken sailor cartoonPOURING OUT LIKE FLOOD and earning me the Spending Like A Drunken Sailor Award for 2020––what a comfort it is knowing that both my electrics AND fence are in tip top first class shape!
As I hunker down gnawing on my dry toast with a side of beans.
HA HA, just JOKING! There is plenty of cash left for even more ambitious projects!
HOWEVER.
After the electricians left, the fence guys were booming away with their fence repair machine and I was comfortably working on my computer–when, *WHUMP*! The screen went blank. All the carefully updated electrics OFF!
My home office: dead as a stone.
Note that this includes the heavenly Modem/Router which bestows the blessings of the internet upon me and my house. Without which my life has NO MEANING.
Frantically I wiggled the circuit board bits, but nothing happened. I called the electric company–send the lads back!–but no one could come until the next day.
The evening was a SHAMBLES.
Well, yes I had warmth, light, food–and OK, yes, wine, books.
But no music–no movies–no shows! No fetching little videos of cats doing cute things! No tutorials on how to make a 3-D cupcake in Blender!
Dispirited, I went to bed early.
And this morning greeted that fine electrician with beaming smiles! He wiggled the circuit board bit, but with much more force than I had done last night. SUCCESS! Hurrah! Now I have all the wonders of the internet once again!
And am quite horrified at how completely bereft I was without them.

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Suddenly here we are in June–and not only in June but proceeding rapidly to the solstice, next week. After which starts the swift slide to the end of the year. Time gallops along–Monday melts into Friday, the weekend into Monday. Perhaps this is an effect of working at home; the days are so similar.
Well, yesterday at least we had something out of the ordinary!
My boss had been invited to a meeting with a government agency, a meeting which used neither Zoom nor WebEx–but Microsoft Teams! This exciting new platform was not welcomed with any enthusiasm at my office. When I asked I got a terse reply from the Helpdesk: We do not support Microsoft Teams.
Thus encouraged, I emailed the hosting lady, who set up a test meeting. I chose NOT to download the app despite the ardent enticements of Microsoft, and managed to enter the meeting on my browser. My host was not, as you might say, Mrs. Einstein. However, we noted that we could see one another, plodded through sharing the screen–and then parted with mutual expressions of good will. A SHOWER of duplicate invitations to the meeting followed, sometimes one a day. I saved the first one to my calendar, deleted the rest.
So yesterday was the MEETING. I was in another meeting when I got a panicked call from my boss: how to join the MEETING? I said, click on the Join Meeting link. However, there was no Join Meeting link in the invitation. I frantically searched through my emails, the calendar–nope, not there.
See, when you are worried about the security of your meeting, the safest option is not to allow anyone to actually attend it.

He eventually joined by phone.

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The summer begins! And, as always, I confront the familiar sneering monster that awaits me in the garden every summer:

Which is to say,the Damn Automatic Watering System (DAWS).
Every year I pluck up the courage to connect one of the system hoses and turn on the water.
EVERY YEAR IT FAILS.
There is always some debilitating leak, some ghastly flaw. Hours, DAYS must be dedicated to ameliorating these defects.

In addition to this regularly scheduled event, I was also able to conclude an interesting scientific experiment: the most expensive hose was left outside all winter to discover if this led to leaks in the hose. Result: Affirmative! Leaks like a sieve. That hose has now been replaced. There is a general feeling in the house towards possibly remembering to bring inside all hoses not actually laid down as part of the DAWS this fall.
So, yesterday I risked my life by going to the hardware store (protected by mask and gloves of course) to purchase some hose repair kits. I had a bunch, but they were too big. Once home, I rushed to try the new devices. TOO SMALL. Sigh. HOkay. Armed with hot soapy water and a variety of delicate technical tools, I forced the too big connector into the hoses, and eventually achieved success. I include instructions in a spirit of good will towards my fellow gardeners.

Today is unfortunately too gray and damp a day for gardening, so I will postpone further garden frolic to another day.

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Remember when I told you about that dorky UK device called Teasmade? No? Here’s a link.
WELL! I just found something EVEN MORE DORKY! This charming old alarm clock was designed in the 1930’s, for those delicate souls whose ears could not abide that horrid screech of the alarm and instead wished to be awakened by the gentle sounds of a favorite album. A miracle device!

Here is the link which includes a recording of its melodious IF a teensy bit scratchy voice.

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Last night I dreamed I was bicycling along a dusty road in pleasant countryside–and I suddenly got the message that the person I was going to see would be going out to dinner with her grandmother. I had to contact her! Finding myself in a busy room, I reached into my bag to get my phone–but it was the wrong phone! Not mine. Baffled, I woke up.
I haven’t bicycled for 30 years.
I did however lose track of my phone last weekend–it somehow tipped out of my bag on the way to the car. I madly searched the garage, the steps from the kitchen! Then reason returned, and I called my cell number from my landline phone. There was the device on the car seat, ringing with right good cheer.

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Both phone and tablet were having trouble connecting to my home wireless network. And then the Nest (cute little thermostat device) plaintively noted that it had not been able to connect to the internet for THREE DAYS. The plugged in devices were working like champions, but the wireless ones–NOT.
I contacted Verizon on my computer and we had a long chat session, during which I learned how to RESET my router. Everyone has a router in the house, no? My own slim little machine has clear instructions pasted on the side, with the default network name and logon information.

There are TWO passwords, one to access the online setup page and the other to connect to the wireless network. Got that? So first I had to reset it back to the default name/pw etc, and THEN I had to change the terrible completely impossible name/pw to something that one could type into a phone without falling into dark despair.
And, eventually, I DID IT. So, SUCCESS!

Then I drove out to buy shoes! Sigh. It turns out that shoes have either NO heels or heels as high as treetops, neither of which satisfy my criteria.

So, FAILURE. I will keep wearing sandals. Until it snows..

But close to the shoe shop is a fabulously high end grocery store, Braggadocio as it might be–?No, wait–it’s Balducci, says Google. Just entering the store is a treat–such confections! Such chocolates! Such cakes!

I ogled the baked goods and then bought myself some dinner and went home to cook it: SUCCESS!

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Dealing with Verizon is like dealing with an aggressive and intensely bureaucratic minor country. There are MANY MANY ministers in this country, and though they all insist that my happiness is their one objective, they do not necessarily communicate their conclusions to one another.

Today I thought I’d tackle the task of ENDING MY TV CONTRACT. The only reason I subscribed was to watch Game of Thrones–years ago now. When I stopped watching, I attempted to end the TV contract. OH HA HA! In my infatuation with the series, I neglected to notice the terms of the contract: TWO YEARS. Yes, I am an idiot. So then they delightedly kept charging me for the TV service which I never–not ONCE–used.
Today I remembered that this period has passed–probably passed long ago. Verizon delicately neglected to give me the news, not wishing to disturb our warm relationship.
So I went to the website and summoned the chat support minion. She came! Her name was Jessica! I told her my request, and she almost made me weep with her moving response:

It grieved me to have to exacerbate her sorrow, but I persevered. After QUITE a long series of interchanges, she was obliged to make a shaming confession:

Sigh. That Dedicated Calling Team only works during the week of course.
So there it is.

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One doesn’t want to COMPLAIN of course–how lucky we are, to be alive, to be well, to be part of this world.
BUT.
Sometimes it seems as if my saintly patience is being tested almost to the breaking point.

For example, my commute has taken a lurch from peaceful to very NOT peaceful.
In a laudable impulse towards improvement, Metro has decided to remold the Friendship Heights bus station nearer to the heart’s desire. So, it is closed and the sad commuters must stand out in the rain for 2 months. One recent evening, the closer subway exit/entrance was closed and we all had to exit on the end without stairs, lining up to use a small overworked elevator–which deposited us quite a distance from the temporary bus stop–and yes, it was raining. Jogging through the rain with my fellow commuters!

Missed the bus, of course. But there is always another one.

This insult was swiftly followed by a FRESH computer bedevilment: after the successful reinstall of the operating system, I was no longer allowed to listen to my books. I did not have PERMISSION. With grinding teeth, I reminded the machine that I was in fact the SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR! HAHa it jeered, tell it to the marines. So, I spent time with the Audible help desk –I am loyal Audible customer, subscribed for years, downloading their books every month. The problem was eventually solved. In a way. Now I can listen to books, but only on my phone, not on my iPod. WHY WHY?

Still, it works, and I am no longer bereft.

The third blow came when my magical bluetooth Turning-On-the-Outdoor-Lights app first failed to work, and then put me through a frantic dance to log in–wrong password you IDIOT! Well, OK, right password but wrong email! IDIOT! Well OK, you can log in. But you cannot change the settings! HAHAHahaha!
The lights eventually went on, so I guess the settings are JUST FINE. Once it gets dark earlier, I shall confront it again.

At least we haven’t had any earthquakes lately.

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After TWO HOURS on the phone with Dell–turning on and turning off the computer, going from one dreary option list to another–we finally gave up and agreed that my poor sick computer needed to go back to the shop–to the ENGINEERS, as the Helpdesk lad respectfully called them. This computer is youthful, still under warranty, so there is that.
HOWEVER.
They are sending a shipping box, which will arrive Tuesday, or so he said. Now, I am leaving early Wednesday morning for a babysitting stint in Brooklyn. You can immediately perceive the immense opportunity for mischief this presents to the fates. In his Report on Resistentialism, Paul Jennings mentions the famous marmalade and toast experiments in which the toast inevitably falls marmalade downwards on the expensive rugs but never on the cheap ones, thus proving the general hostility of things. How tempting to a malign fate, to delay that important box and its valuable label until after I leave! HA HAHA! Though it would only delay the cure for a another week or so, which I suppose is not so completely malign a thing as marmalade on a priceless Chinese silk rug. Sigh.

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